Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes/iPod. Download the transcript. Sponsor: The Open Group.
Dana Gardner: Hi, this is Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions, and you're listening to BriefingsDirect.
Today, we present a sponsored podcast discussion in conjunction with The Open Group Conference held in San Francisco the week of January 30, 2012.
We've assembled a panel from among the conference speakers and contributors to examine the fascinating relationship between enterprise architecture (EA) and enterprise transformation. [Disclosure: The Open Group is a sponsor of BriefingsDirect podcasts.]
For some, the role and impact of an information technology and the organizing benefits of enterprise architecture make them larger than life, when it comes to enterprise transformation. In other words, if you really want enterprise transformation, you really need enterprise architecture to succeed in the modern enterprise.
For others, the elevation of enterprise architecture as a tag team to enterprise transformation improperly conflates the role of enterprise architecture and, as such, waters down enterprise architecture and risks obscuring its unique contribution.
So how should we view these roles and functions? How high into the enterprise transformation firmament should enterprise architecture rise? And will rising too high, in effect, melt its wings and cause it to crash back to earth and perhaps become irrelevant?
Or is enterprise transformation nowadays significantly dependent upon enterprise architecture, and therefore, we should make enterprise architecture a critical aspect for any business moving forward?
We'll pose these and other questions to our panel here to deeply examine the relationship between enterprise architecture and enterprise transformation. So with that, let me now introduce our guests.
We're here with Len Fehskens, Vice President of Skills and Capabilities at The Open Group. Welcome, Len.
Len Fehskens: Hi, Dana. Great to be here.
Gardner: We're also here with Madhav Naidu, Lead Enterprise Architect at Ciena Corp. Welcome to the show, Madhav.
Madhav Naidu: Thanks, Dana.
Gardner: We're also here with Bill Rouse, Professor in the School of Industrial and Systems Engineering and the College of Computing, as well as Executive Director of the Tennenbaum Institute, all at the Georgia Institute of Technology. He's also the Principal at Rouse Associates. Welcome to our show, Bill.
Bill Rouse: It's great to be here, Dana. Thank you.
Gardner: And Jeanne Ross, Director and Principal Research Scientist at the MIT Center for Information Systems Research, join us. Welcome back, Jeanne.
Jeanne Ross: Good morning, Dana.
Architecture and transformation
Gardner: Let's start with you Len. You’ve been tracking enterprise architecture for quite some time. You’ve been a practitioner of this. You’ve been involved with The Open Group for some time. Why is enterprise transformation not significantly dependent upon enterprise architecture, and why would it be a disservice to bring enterprise architecture into the same category?
Fehskens: I don't think that's quite what I believe. My biggest concern is the identification of enterprise architecture with enterprise transformation.
First of all, these two disciplines have different names, and there's a reason for that. Architecture is a means to transformation, but it is not the same as transformation. Architecture enables transformation, but by itself is not enough to effect successful transformation. There are a whole bunch of other things that you have to do.
My second concern is that right now, the discipline of enterprise architecture is sort of undergoing -- I wouldn’t call it an identity crisis -- but certainly, it's the case that we still really haven't come to a widespread, universally shared understanding of what enterprise architecture really means.
Just go onto any Internet discussion group about enterprise architecture, open up the discussion about the definition of enterprise architecture, and I guarantee that you will get hundreds and hundreds of posts all arguing about what enterprise architecture is. To make that problem worse by trying to fold enterprise transformation into the function of enterprise architecture is just not a good idea at this point.
My position is that they're two separate disciplines. Enterprise architecture is a valuable contributor to enterprise transformation, but the fact of the matter is that people have been transforming enterprises reasonably successfully for a long time without using enterprise architecture. So it's not necessary, but it certainly helps. It's just like having power tools makes it easier to build a house, but people have been building houses for a long time without power tools.
I'm concerned about making bigger promises than we can actually keep by falling into the trap of believing that enterprise architecture, by itself, is sufficient to make enterprise transformation successful. I don’t think that’s the case. There are other things that you need to be able to do besides developing architectures in order to successfully transform an enterprise.
Gardner: Okay, Len, if the concept, the notion, or the definition of enterprise architect is changing, I suppose we also have to recognize that enterprise transformation, as it's defined, is changing as well. To borrow from your analogy, the power tools to build a house are not necessary, but you might be able to build a better house a lot faster. And building things better and faster seem to be much more a part of enterprise transformation now than they used to be.
Fehskens: No argument, but again, to use that analogy, you can do more with power tools than build just houses. You can build all kinds of other stuff as well. So, no argument at all that enterprise architecture is not a powerful means to effecting enterprise transformation, but they are distinct disciplines. The means to an end doesn’t mean the means is the end and doesn’t make them synonymous. They are still, as I said, distinct.
Gardner: I think we’re getting close to understanding the relationship. Madhav, as a practitioner of enterprise architecture at Ciena Corp., are you finding that your role, the value that you’re bringing to your company as an enterprise architect, is transformative? Do you agree with Len? Do you think that there's really a confluence between these different disciplines at this time?
Means and ends
Naidu: Definitely. What Len mentioned, it rhymes very well with me. The means and the end, kind of blending it down. Transformation itself is more like a wedding and EA is more like a wedding planner. I know we have seen many weddings without a wedding planner, but it makes it easier if you have a wedding planner, because they have gone through certain steps (as part of their experience). They walk us through those processes, those methods, and those approaches. It makes it easier.
That’s why, definitely, I agree with what Len said. Enterprise transformation is different. It's a huge task and it is the actual end. Enterprise architecture is a profession that can help lead the transformation successfully.
One another point Len brought up in this discussion is that, it is not just the enterprise architects who will be doing the whole thing. Almost everybody in the enterprise is engaged in one way or another. The enterprise architect plays more like a facilitator role. They are bringing the folks together, aligning them with the transformation, the vision of it, and then driving the transformation and building the capabilities. Those are the roles I will look at EA handling, but definitely, these two are two different aspects.
Gardner: Is there something about the state of affairs right now that makes enterprise architecture specifically important or particularly important for enterprise transformation? I believe I'm getting more towards this idea that IT is more important and that the complexity of the relationship between IT and business necessitates EA and therefore transformation really can't happen without it.
Naidu: We know many organizations that have successfully transformed without really calling a function EA and without really using help from a team called EA. But indirectly they are using the same processes, methods, and best practices. They may not be calling those things out, but they are using the best practices. When they do that, the transformations have been successful, but then when they don’t apply those best practices and standards, there are many organizations that fail.
That’s why, now, like Len brought up earlier, there is a lot of discussion about what really constitutes an EA and where are the boundaries for EA, because it is part IT, there are different roles, and part business, and a lot of people are engaged.
So there's a lot of churn going on over what should be the part of EA. But going back to your question, I definitely see the critical role EA is playing. Hopefully, in the next few years, EA will form its appropriate objectives, processes, and methods so that we can say this is what we mean by EA.
Gardner: Bill Rouse, how do you come down on this? Clearly there's an impact that EA has on enterprise transformation. We seem to grasp for analogies when we try to define this relationship. Are you finding in your research and through the organizations you're working with that the role of architecture creeps in? Even if people don’t know they’re doing architecture, when they get to transformation and a complex setting in today’s world, architecture is almost a necessity.
Rouse: There are two distinctions I’d like to draw. First of all, in the many transformation experiences we've studied, you can simplistically say there are three key issues: people, organizations, and technology, and the technology is the easy part. The people and organizations are the hard part.
The other thing is I think you’re talking about is the enterprise IT architecture. If I draw an enterprise architecture, I actually map out organizations and relationships among organizations and work and how it gets done by people and view that as the architecture of the enterprise.
Sometimes, we think of an enterprise quite broadly, like the architecture of the healthcare enterprise is not synonymous with IT. In fact, if you were to magically overnight have a wonderful IT architecture throughout our healthcare system in United States, it would be quite helpful but we would still have a problem with our system because the incentives aren’t right. The whole incentive system is messed up.
So I do think that the enterprise IT architecture, as I see it -- and others can correct me if I'm wrong, but I think that's what you’re talking about -- is an important enabler, a crucial enabler, to many aspects of enterprise transformation. But I don’t see them as close at all in terms of thinking of them as synonymous.
Gardner: Len Fehskens, are we actually talking about IT architecture or enterprise architecture and what's the key difference?
Fehskens: Well, again that’s this part of the problem, and there's a big debate going on within the enterprise architecture community whether enterprise architecture is really about IT, in which case it probably ought to be called enterprise IT architecture or whether it’s about the enterprise as a whole.
For example, when you look at the commitment of resources to the IT function in most organizations, depending on how you count, whether you count by headcount or dollars invested or whatever, the numbers typically run about 5-10 percent. So there's 90 percent of most organizations that is not about IT, and in the true enterprise transformation, that other 90 percent has to transform itself as well.
So part of it is just glib naming of the discipline. Certainly, what most people mean when they say enterprise architecture and what is actually practiced under the rubric of enterprise architecture is mostly about IT. That is, the implementation of the architecture, the effects of the architecture occurs primarily in the IT domain.
Gardner: But, Len, don't TOGAF at The Open Group and ArchiMate really step far beyond IT? Isn’t that sort of the trend?
Fehskens: It certainly is a trend, but I think we've still got a long way to go. Just look at the language that’s used in the architecture development method (ADM) for TOGAF, for example, and the model of an enterprise architecture. There's business, information, application, and technology.
Well, three of those concepts are very much related to IT and only one of them is really about business. And mostly, the business part is about that part of the business that IT can provide support for. Yes, we do know organizations that are using TOGAF to do architecture outside of the IT realm, but the way it's described, the way it was originally intended, is largely focused on IT.
The TOGAF standard was developed almost entirely by the IT community. But it is clear to people who step back far enough from the details of where the implementation happens that architectural thinking is a very generally applicable discipline and certainly can be applied to that other 90 percent of the enterprise that I talked about.
Not a lot going on
It's just that there's not a whole lot of that going on, and as Madhav pointed out, what is going on is generally not called architecture. It's called organizational design or management or it goes under a whole bunch of other stuff. And it's not referred to as enterprise architecture, but there is a lot of that stuff happening. As I said earlier, it is essential to making enterprise transformation successful.
My personal opinion is that virtually all forms of design involve doing some architectural thinking. Whether you call it that or not, architecture is a particular aspect of the design process, and people do it without recognizing it, and therefore are probably not doing it explicitly.
But Bill made a really important observation, which is that it can't be solely about IT. There's lots of other stuff in the enterprise that needs to transform.
Gardner: To that point, let's go to Jeanne Ross. Jeanne, in your presentation at The Open Group Conference, you mentioned data management and that the ability of leveraging analytics and presenting that to more people with good data in real time is an essential ingredient for transformation and for just doing things better, faster, cheaper, more impactful in the market, and so on.
Now wouldn’t the data management as a category sort of crossover. It's got parts of IT, parts of architectures, and parts of organizational management. When we think about making data management essential, doesn’t this in a sense bring about more recognition that an architectural approach that helps foster something at that level at that category becomes really important in today’s world?
Ross: I actually would discourage people from focusing on data management first. We've had a number of companies we studied who thought, "All I care about is the data. I'm just going to get that cleaned up." What they learned was that if they didn’t clean up their processes, they didn’t need to be thinking about data. It was going nowhere.
Analytics has been over-hyped as something that we can do a lot of in IT, while we're waiting for the rest of the organization to get its act together around architecture. Similarly, that has led to a lot of IT efforts that haven’t added real value to organizations.
So I wouldn't emphasize data management as a priority, even though we'll get there eventually. It is actually essential at some point. I think a lot of efforts around data management have been around the idea "Data makes this organization run. Let's get data fixed," as if we could just do that in isolation from everything else. That is a really frustrating approach.
I'd go back to the challenge we have here of enterprise architecture being buried in the IT unit. Enterprise architecture is an enterprise effort, initiative, and impact. Because enterprise architecture is so often buried in IT, IT people are trying to do things and accomplish things that cannot be done within IT.
We've got to continue to push that enterprise architecture is about designing the way this company will do it business, and that it's far beyond the scope of IT alone. I take it back to the transformation discussion. What we find is that when a company really understands enterprise architecture and embraces it, it will go through a transformation, because it's not used to thinking that way and it's not used to acting that way.
If management says we're going to start using IT strategically, we're going to start designing ourselves so that we have disciplined business processes and that we use data well. The company is embracing enterprise architecture and that will lead to a transformation.
Data management will be a crucial element of this, but the big mistake I see out there is thinking that IT will fix up data, and that is going to have some big impact on either enterprise architecture or enterprise transformation, or both. The ‘I’ is simply a critical element. It's not something that we can just fix.
Gardner: You also said that someday CIOs are going to report to the enterprise architects, and that’s the way it ought to be. Does that get closer to this notion that IT can't do this alone, that a different level of thinking across disciplines and functions needs to occur?
Ross: I certainly think so. Look at companies that have really embraced and gotten benefits from enterprise architecture like Procter & Gamble, Tetra Pak, and Maersk. At P&G’s, IT is reporting to the CIO but he is also the President of Shared Services. At Maersk and Tetra Pak, it's the Head of Global Business Processes.
Once we get CIOs either in charge with more of a business role and they are in charge of process, and of the technology, or are reporting to a COO or head of business process, head of business transformation, or head of shared services, then we know what it is we’re architecting, and the whole organization is designed so that architecture is a critical element.
I don’t think that title-wise, this is ever going to happen. I don’t think we’re ever going to see a CIO report to chief enterprise architect. But in practice, what we’re seeing is more CIOs reporting to someone who is, in fact, in charge of designing the architecture of the organization. By that, I mean business processes and its use of data. When we get there, first of all, we will transform to get to that point and secondly, we’ll really start seeing some benefits and real strategic impact of enterprise architecture.
Gardner: Madhav, at Ciena, do you see that this process-level capability around enterprise architecture is what's occurring, even if the titles are not aligned that way or the org chart doesn’t point to the CIO reporting to an architect. Is architecture in practice elevating a process orientation to this capability set that therefore fosters better transformation?
Naidu: Definitely. Some progress has been happening, especially what Jeanne was mentioning about the business process changes itself, rather than just bringing the systems and customizing it to our needs, and rather than transforming our business processes so that they match industry standard.
That’s definitely happening, and the architecture team has engaged and is influencing that process. But that said, the maturity level takes quite a few years, not only at Ciena, but in other places too. It will take some time but this is happening.
Gardner: Len Fehskens, we have a mentality in our organizations that architecture isn't that important, and there's some cynicism and skepticism around architecture, and yet, what we’re hearing is it's not in name only. It is important, and it's increasingly important, even at higher and higher abstractions in the organization.
How to evangelize?
How then do you evangelize or propel architectural thinking into companies? You may have been concerned that advancement of architectural thinking would have been impelled when we conflate enterprise architecture into transformation, but until then, what should you do? How do you get the thinking around an architectural approach more deeply engrained in these companies?
Fehskens: Dana, I think that’s the $64,000 question. The fundamental way to get architectural thinking accepted is to demonstrate value. I mean to show that it really brings something to the party. That’s part of my concern about the conflation of enterprise transformation with enterprise architecture and making even bigger promises that probably can't be kept.
The reason that in organizations who’ve tried enterprise architecture and decided that it didn’t taste good, it was because the effort didn’t actually deliver any value. Certainly the advice that I hear over and over again, and that I myself give over and over again, is: “Don’t try to boil the ocean.” Start small and demonstrate success. And again, there's that old saw that nothing succeeds like success.
The way to get architectural thinking integrated into an organization is to use it in places where it can deliver obvious, readily apparent value in the short-term and then grow out from that nucleus. Trying to bite off more than you can chew only results in you choking. That's the big problem we’ve had historically. There are all these clichés and the reason of clichés is because there's certain amount of truth to them about your reach exceeding your grasp, for example.
It’s about making promises that you can actually keep. Once you've done that, and done that consistently and repeatedly, then people will say that there's really something to this. There's some reason why these guys are actually delivering on a big promise.
Rouse: Can I offer something, another perspective?
Fehskens: Yeah, please do go.
Rouse: We ran a study recently about what competencies you need to transform an organization based on a series of successful case studies and we did a survey with hundreds of top executives in the industry.
The number one and two things you need are the top leader has to have a vision of where you’re going and they have to be committed to making that happen. Without those two things, it seldom happens at all. From that perspective, I'd argue that the CIO probably already does report to the chief architect. Bill Gates and Steve Jobs architected Microsoft and Apple. Carnegie and Rockefeller architected the steel and oil industries.
If you look at the business histories of people with these very successful companies, often they had a really keen architectural sense of what the pieces were and how they needed to fit together. So if we’re going to really be in the transformation business with TOGAF and stuff, we need to be talking to the CEO, not the CIO.
Gardner: Jeanne Ross, let’s focus on what Bill just said in terms of the architecture function really being at the core and therefore at the highest level of the organization.
Ross: I totally agree. The industries and companies that you cited, Bill, instinctively did what every company is going to need to do in the digital economy, which is think about corporate strategy not just in terms of what products do we offer, what markets are we in, what companies do we acquire, and what things do we sell up.
At the highest level, we have to get our arms around it. Success is dependent on understanding how we are fundamentally going to operate. A lot of CEOs have deferred that responsibility to others and when that mandate is not clear, it gets very murky.
What does happen in a lot of companies, because CEOs have a lot of things to pay attention to, is that once they have stated the very high-level vision, they absolutely can put a head of business process or a head of shared services or a COO type in charge of providing the clarification, providing the day-to-day oversight, establishing the relationships in the organizations so everybody really understands how this vision is going to work. I totally agree that this goes nowhere if the CEO isn’t at least responsible for a very high-level vision.
Gardner: So if what I think I'm hearing is correct, how you do things is just as important as what you do. Because we’re in such a dynamic environment, when it comes to supply chains and communications and the way in which technology influences more and more aspects of business, it needs to be architected, rather than be left to a fiat or a linear or older organizational functioning.
So Bill Rouse, the COO, the chief operating officer, wouldn’t this person be perhaps more aligned with enterprise architecture in the way that we’re discussing?
Rouse: Jeanne makes a good point. Let's start with the basic data. We can't find a single instance of a major enterprise transformation in a major company happening successfully without total commitment of top leadership. Organizations just don’t spontaneously transform on their own.
A lot of the ideas and a lot of the insights can come from elsewhere in the organization, but, given that the CEO is totally committed to making this happen, certainly the COO can play a crucial role in how it's then pursued, and the COO of course will be keenly aware of a whole notion of processes and the need to understand processes.
One of the companies I work very closely with tried to merge three companies by putting in ERP. After $300 million, they walked away from the investment, because they realized they had no idea of what the processes were. So the COO is a critical function here.
Just to go back to original point, you want total commitment by the CEO. You can't just launch the visionary message and walk away. At the same time, you need people who are actually dealing with the business processes to do a lot of the work.
Gardner: Madhav, at the Ciena, how do you view the relationship between what you do as a lead enterprise architect and what your operations officer does? It might not be that title, but the function of operations management and oversight. How do they come together?
Not role, but involvement
Naidu: Not by role, but by involvement. There are quite a few business executives engaged in the business process identification and changes. Many of them report to the top executives in the business line. That’s what the current setting right now. We're pretty happy that that kind of support is coming from many of the executives and business teams. That said, there is no formal relationship in terms of reporting and all.
Gardner: Len Fehskens, you mentioned a while ago that finding success and demonstrating value are instrumental to promulgating the use of architecture and understanding the benefits of architecture. Would operations, rather than just technology, be a target than for how you can demonstrate that? The architecture processes might be the sweet spot in some of the thinking now about where to demonstrate that enterprise architecture is the way to go.
Fehskens: Absolutely. And this ties into another thing we need to be aware of, which is that the need to transform, the motivation for enterprise transformation, doesn’t always come from disruptive technologies. There was a really interesting talk last week at the conference on sustainable enterprise architecture, and they made the point that there are lots of major disruptions that have nothing to do with technology.
In particular, in a world where resources are becoming increasingly scarce, and impact on the environment is a significant concern, the drive to transform an enterprise will often come from other places than the appearance of disruptive technologies. There will be disruptions of all sorts that have to be dealt with. The transformation in response to those isn't going to come out of the IT organization. It's going to have to come from other organizations.
The idea that we talked about at the beginning of the discussion was that architecture is a very powerful means for figuring out what kind of transformation is necessary, and how to effect it, means that we need architectures that aren’t about IT, we need to understand driving architectural approach to the other considerations that an enterprise deals with.
As Bill said, historically it's been the case that the lead architects in the most successful organizations were the guys who had the vision and the guys who were at the very top of the organizational structure who created this organization in the very first place. And they weren’t IT guys. Bill Gates, in particular, didn’t build Microsoft around its IT capability. He built it around a whole bunch of other ideas that were really business ideas, not IT concepts. So, yeah, absolutely.
Gardner: I'm afraid we'll have to wrap it up. I’d like to go once around the panel with a pretty direct question and if you could perhaps provide your succinct thoughts. What is the relationship between enterprise architecture and enterprise transformation? Let's start with you first, Jeanne.
Ross: I'd say the relationship between enterprise architecture and enterprise transformation is two-way. If an organization feels the need for a transformation -- in other words, if it feels it needs to do something -- it will absolutely need enterprise architecture as one of the tools for accomplishing that.
It will provide the clarity the organization needs in a time of mass change. People need to know where they're headed, and that is true in how they do their processes, how they design their data, and then how they implement IT.
It works just as well in reverse. If a company hasn't had a clear vision of how they want to operate, then they might introduce architecture to provide some of that discipline and clarity and it will inevitably lead to a transformation. When you go from just doing what every individual thought was best or every business unit thought was best to an enterprise vision of how a company will operate, you're imposing a transformation. So I think we are going to see these two hand-in-hand.
What's the relationship?
Gardner: Bill Rouse, same question, what in your view is the relationship between enterprise architecture and enterprise transformation?
Rouse: I think enterprise transformation often involves a significant fundamental change of the enterprise architecture, broadly defined, which can then be enabled by the enterprise IT architecture.
Gardner: Madhav, also to you the same question, relationship between EA and enterprise transformation?
Naidu: Like I mentioned in the beginning, one is end, another one is means. I look at the enterprise transformation as an end and enterprise architecture providing the kind of means. In one way it's like reaching the destination using some kind of transportation mechanism. That’s how I look at the difference between EA and ET?
Gardner: Len, I know you’ve gone out at some length about this, but perhaps the elevator version. How do you view the relationship between EA and enterprise transformation?
Fehskens: One of the fundamental principles of architecture is taking advantage of reuse when it's appropriate. So I'm just going to reuse what everybody just said. I can't say it better. Enterprise architecture is a powerful tool for effecting enterprise transformation. Jeanne is right. It's a symmetric or bidirectional back-and-forth kind of relationship, and what Bill and Madhav said applies as well. So I really don't have anything to add.
Gardner: Well, I found it very interesting. I have a newfound appreciation for architecting how you do something better enables you to decide what it is that you're going to do in the future, and there is an interesting relationship between how and what that perhaps escape some folks. I hope they recognize that a little bit more deeply.
You’ve been listening to a sponsored podcast discussion in conjunction with The Open Group Conference in San Francisco, the week of January 30th, 2012. We've enjoyed our discussion with our guests and I’d like to thank them and call them out individually one more time.
Len Fehskens, the Vice President of Skills and Capabilities at The Open Group. Thank you, Len.
Fehskens: Thank you, Dana.
Gardner: Madhav Naidu, Lead Enterprise Architect at Ciena Corporation. Thanks so much.
Naidu: It's been my pleasure.
Gardner: Bill Rouse, Professor in the School of Industrial and Systems Engineering as well as the College of Computing and also Executive Director at The Tennenbaum Institute, all at the Georgia Institute of Technology, and Principal at Rouse Associates. Thank you, Bill.
Rouse: Thank you. I enjoyed it.
Gardner: And Jeanne Ross, Director and Principal Research Scientist at the MIT Center for Information Systems Research. Thanks so much for your input.
Ross: Thank you. Great talking with you all.
Gardner: This is Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions. Thanks to our audience for joining us, and come back next time.
Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes/iPod. Download the transcript. Sponsor: The Open Group.
Transcript of a sponsored podcast discussion on the respective roles of enterprise architecture and enterprise transformation and the danger --and opportunity -- of conflating the two. Copyright Interarbor Solutions, LLC, 2005-2012. All rights reserved.
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